“Black Friday” continues Lie To Me’s strong performance this year, with another tightly written and moving episode. One of the changes show-runner Shawn Ryan brings to the show is to shift this procedural’s format from week to week, keeping it fresh. I’ve always felt the episodes that feature the Lightman Group splitting in two to follow separate cases have an issue with the B case not being as strong as the A case. Roth’s performance is the key to the success of this show, and where he is not, the audience would generally also rather it was not . But this week shows the writers are getting a handle on this issue. Both cases are interesting and Lightman pops in and out of the B case just enough to tie the two stories together. Between the two, we are treated to a topical exploration of crowd dynamics and a moving look at family and identity.
Lightman’s case begins, appropriately enough for a case focused on family, at home. To his daughter’s wry amusement, Zoe and Foster are joining them at Cal’s for what she calls a make believe family holiday, in this case, Thanksgiving. Emily’s misgivings about her family structure set the stage for a knock on the door introducing Max, a teenage boy desperate to find out who he is. The lad is certain his parents are not his real parents and he was abducted as a baby. Incredible as the tale sounds, he does have a scar that matches that of James Knox, a well known abduction case. Max is desperate to know who he is and tells Lightman, “I have to know the truth!”
Lightman takes the case, but he knows searching for truth can be dangerous. He sets the scene for Max to confront his parents, and Max lets them know he secretly did a paternity test using the internet. The result is, he bitterly tells them, “I’m not related to either of you.” This raises the issue of what exactly constitutes a relationship. Is it sharing DNA or a life? Foster also raises the issue of the cost of the questions Max is asking. Although she and Cal now know the people who raised Max are not his biological parents, she insists they cannot call the cops and instead have to protect Max. Cal isn’t arguing—he is delighted that Foster is learning to think like a criminal (and like him!)—but exposing lies can be very dangerous. Will they be able to protect Max?